POLITICS

Jared O'Mara Suspended By Labour Party Over 'Homophobic And Sexist' Comments

A final decision will be made on his future after a party investigation.

25/10/2017 11:36 BST | Updated 25/10/2017 15:39 BST

Jared O’Mara has been suspended by the Labour Party after he was revealed to have posted homophobic and sexist comments online.

The Sheffield Hallam MP, who ousted Nick Clegg at the snap election, also faced claims he called a constituent an “ugly bitch” just months before his election.

Women and equalities minister Justine Greening wrote to Jeremy Corbyn to ask whether he would remove the whip from O’Mara, who said he was “deeply ashamed” after derogatory comments he posted online were unearthed by the Guido Fawkes website.

A senior Labour spokesman said that Corbyn personally asked party general secretary Iain McNicol to suspend the MP from the party, following new revelations about a music review written in 2009.

Senior sources close to Jeremy Corbyn explained that the post written by O’Mara - when he was aged 28 - that had triggered the suspension.  In it, he made sexist remarks about virgins and sex.

Empics Entertainment
Women and equalities minister Justine Greening wrote to Jeremy Corbyn calling for O'Mara's suspension.

When asked why O’Mara was suspended over his views expressed in 2009 rather than his views from 2002, the spokesman said: “He was obviously significantly older when that was written. That’s something different.”

“The original information related either to things that were written and said around 13,14 years ago or things that were contested,” he added.

“The latest information is more recent and so Jeremy took the decision to ask for his suspension. The investigation was ordered yesterday and that reflected the fact that since Shami Chakrabarti’s report we tried to have a more graduated response to disciplinary cases and more which reflects natural justice.

“In this case there is new material that has come to light. As Jeremy has made clear this kind of abusive, misogynistic and sexist language is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Labour party.”

PA Wire/PA Images
A spokesman for Corbyn said he took action over more recent offensive comments.

Asked if Corbyn had responded only after Labour women MPs such as Lucy Powell and Lisa Nandy had demanded his suspension, the spokesman said: “Today we have had new material and new information about things that he had written more recently than the original material. So at each stage we’ve tried to respond to what is actually on the table.”

The investigation was sparked after revelations that O’Mara had in 2002 made sexist and homophobic remarks online. In 2004, he also wrote a review of an Arctic Monkeys concert referring to ‘slags’.

Asked what age was the ‘cut off point’ for unacceptable views, the spokesman replied: “I think that’s what the investigation is all about.

Following the revelations Sophie Evans, who said she met O’Mara on a dating app last year, came forward to say he verbally abused her in a club in March - a claim the MP has denied.

The Labour leadership had been under increasing pressure to take decisive action ahead of Prime Ministers’ Questions in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon. 

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell confirmed O’Mara’s suspension less than an hour before the session was due to begin. 

He told BBC News: “A full investigation will be carried out by the Labour Party and then as result a final decision will be made about his future.”

In response to a question from Conservative backbencher Nicky Morgan on the lack of respect shown to women by O’Mara, Theresa May said: ”I want young women to see this House as a place they actively want to come to...and make a real difference to people’s lives.

“All of us in this House should have due care and attention to the way in which we refer to other people and should show women in public life the respect that they deserve.”

Reacting to the news on BBC Radio 5 live, shadow education minister Tracy Brabin agreed with her party’s decision.

“That’s probably a wise move and we’ll see what comes out of the investigation,” she said.

Brabin added that the move shows “we are” doing something.

Before the news broke, she had described the actions of O’Mara as “unpleasant and unacceptable”, adding the whole episode “doesn’t look fantastic”.

Following the suspension, Lucy Powell said she welcomed the action and that O’Mara had brought the party into disrepute.

“The historic comments that Jared O’Mara made are abhorrent and speak for themselves. It is now right that any further allegations are investigated fully and properly,” she added.

Tory MP Mims Davies, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Parliament, said: “Totally right that the whip has been suspended from Jared O’Mara for his vile homophobic and sexist comments -  but why on earth has it taken so long?

“Jeremy Corbyn has for too long turned a blind eye to this kind of behaviour in the Labour Party.

“Unless you call it out, you’re part of the problem.”

PA Archive/PA Images
Shadow education minister Tracy Brabin said the suspension was 'probably a wise move'.

Also reacting to the news, her Conservative colleague Suella Fernandez said: “A suspension is more than words, and that is the appropriate course at this stage. This probably is the appropriate course of action right now.”

Another Tory MP, Nadine Dorries, tweeted shadow education secretary Angela Rayner to ask if she really believed O’Mara was a reformed character, after she told the BBC on Tuesday she was “happy” to sit on the Labour benches alongside him.

The Lib Dems said the suspension was “better late than never” but said Labour should have taken swift action on Tuesday, when the investigation was first launched.